HOWARD WARD: Moore Am Has Come A Long Way
As late as five years ago, the Moore County Men's Amateur Championship was a rudderless ship, apparently sailing into a sea of oblivion. And no one seemed to really care that much.
I can recall writing a column only a few weeks before the event wondering if anyone knew when or where it was going to be held. That was ugly stuff for a county championship. Not many guys were entering, and even fewer seemed to care.
But a few good men accepted the challenge of salvaging the tournament, and now it's a healthy, vibrant event that provides two days of great golf with a field strong enough and varied enough to invigorate the community.
Just look at last weekend. Sherrill Britt and John Romaine, a couple of friends from West End who love knocking heads in friendly matches during the week, scorched the Southern Pines Golf Club track with a pair of 64s on Saturday.
But as amazing as the scores were, the mere fact that the players had a venue in which to strut their stuff was more amazing. Credit Bob Burwell and Dick Wilson and a few volunteers they enlisted with making it possible.
"Bob and I took it over in 2005 when it was held at Little River," Wilson said, "and we've been slowly adding to it to make it better."
They've succeeded more than even they could have imagined. A tournament that had trouble getting enough players to make it worthwhile five years ago had 124 players in the field last Sunday. And the golf was definitely of championship caliber.
Want to see an example of what Burwell and Wilson have created? Check out this list of sponsors for an event that couldn't draw flies a few years ago:
Pinehurst Resort, Weichert Realty, Johnny O's Awards, The Pilot, Roberts Golf, Avestra, First Citizens Bank, Hampton inn, Bode Chiropractic, Granville Financial Planning, Tom Vicars, DDS, Greentree Marketing, The First Tee of the Sandhills, Midland Country Club, Knollwood Fairways, Branche's Cleaning, Best Western, First Bank, Sandhills Signs, Southern Pines Country Club, Thomas Tires, Homewood Suites, Mid-South Orthopaedic;
Sandhills Dermatology, Pinehurst Area Realty, Bill Smith Ford, Tripps, Outback, Bonefish Grill, Pine Crest Inn, Table on the Green, Ironwood Caf, Squire's Pub, Beefeater's, Miller's Family Restaurant, Mac's Breakfast, Lob Steer Inn, Ragazzi's, Thai Orchid, Shuckers Oyster Bar and Panera Bread.
To make the 124-player field more manageable, a double shotgun start and groups of threesomes were used both days. This eliminated crowding on the course and allowed some rounds to be played in less than four hours.
Preferred pairings were allowed on Saturday, but the senior and super senior divisions played Sunday morning, paired according to flight scores.
"It worked great," Wilson said. "The senior players had the morning to themselves and at the end of the day, the Moore Country champion comes in."
The tournament was opened to out-of-county residents last year and an influx of players has added both numbers and stronger competition.
"The sponsorship has increased because we expanded the legwork," Wilson said. "We went to the businesses and gave them a sales pitch and we set up a site on The Pilot's Web. We sent out e-mails twice to our data base of players."
Still, the event could not have come off as smoothly as it did without the help of volunteers such as James Dockery.
Dockery, who loves the game of golf and likes to be involved in anything that makes it better, has served as volunteer at more big events in the area than he cares to remember. He's the kind of guy who doesn't mind putting in some tedious hours if it's going to help an event succeed.
"James spent more than four hours stuffing our gift bags," Wilson pointed out.
"With all the sponsors, it took a while," Dockery admitted. "I set up an assembly line and made sure every bag got one of everything."
That pretty much describes the Moore Amateur. It had everything this year.
Contact Howard Ward at 867-6493 or 690-2211 or by e-mail at
More like this story